Thanks Martin Luther King, Jr.


From Wikipedia:

On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In 1965, he and the SCLC helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches and the following year, he took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor. In addition, a county was rededicated in his honor. A memorial statue on the National Mall was opened to the public in 2011.

“I believe the Western Slope will sabotage any attempt to develop more water” — Jeris Danielson #ColoradoRiver #COWaterPlan

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project western and upper eastern slope facilities
Fryingpan-Arkansas Project western and upper eastern slope facilities

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Can the Western Slope ever come to terms with a future proposal to move water across the Continental Divide?

That’s one question that is emerging as the state water plan moves into its sophomore year.

Part of the draft water plan presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper in December includes principles for Colorado River Development.

The issue has been a stumbling block in the quest to get agreement from all water basins in the state about how to provide new water supplies. It stymied a task force formed several years ago to look at whether a pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming could be built. Denver Water went its own way in obtaining a cooperative agreement with diverse Western Slope interests.

“I had hoped we could get away from the Western Slope position of not one damn more drop,” said Jeris Danielson, a former state engineer who now manages the Purgatoire Water Conservancy District. “I believe the Western Slope will sabotage any attempt to develop more water.”

Danielson made his comments at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting last week. He represents the roundtable on the Interbasin Compact Committee. Both were created in 2005, partly for the reason of ironing out disputes between basins.

The groups formed in a period of statewide drought when the Legislature was looking for an alternative to the long-standing practice of agricultural dry-up to slake urban thirst. The issue of maintaining or increasing water imports is vital to Front Range communities, including Pueblo, as water supplies in the Arkansas and South Platte river basins are fully spoken for and being used.

The Colorado River basin has conditional water rights in place for more water than is available, but much of that is by oil shale companies that have never developed the water rights. Danielson said excess water is available much of the time and Colorado has a right to use it under the Colorado River Compact.

One of the things the IBCC managed to accomplish in the first 10 years of meetings was a draft conceptual agreement. The key points of the agreements boil down to:

  • Making the Front Range and Eastern Colorado projects.
  • Development of compensatory projects for the Western Slope.
  • Establish triggers for times when water could be moved, because of compact calls.
  • Accommodating future Western Slope needs.
  • Improving urban and agricultural conservation and reuse.
  • Incorporating environmental and recreation needs for water.
  • The Roundtable touched the surface of only one or two of those points at its meeting last week, but accepted those points as a starting place for IBCC discussions, which are expected to continue when it meets in Denver next week.

    Jay Winner, the roundtable’s other IBCC representative, said more talk about the principles is not the way to go. He noted that a recent Gunnison Basin “white paper” appears poised to set the process back.

    “It took us a year to get to this point,” Winner said. “I’m tired of white papers. We need a project.”

    The truth behind oil shale’s water demands — Anne-Mariah Tapp and David M. Abelson #ColoradoRiver

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Anne-Mariah Tapp and David M. Abelson):

    As the new Congress ramps up in the coming weeks, energy policy will quickly top the list of priorities. Debates over the Keystone Pipeline, natural gas exports, and climate change may dominate, but they won’t be the only issues demanding Congress’ attention. In the West, the link between energy development and water use has never been more dire. And for the Colorado River Basin’s 40 million residents —and the water they depend on — a critical piece of legislation on the docket is the PIONEERS Act.

    The PIONEERS Act seeks to jumpstart the non-existent oil shale industry in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for private gain at the expense of Colorado River Basin water resources. Oil shale, the poor cousin of the shale oil and fracking boom, is technically feasible to extract, but in 100 years of dogged attempts by the federal government and the oil industry, extracting it has never turned a profit. Now provisions in the PIONEERS Act attempt to improve the economics by providing federal subsidies in the form of cheap public land and below-market royalties.

    In securing passage of the PIONEERS Act in the past three sessions of Congress (each time the bill has been thwarted in the Senate), Colorado Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton have maintained that oil shale development, should the technologies be successfully commercialized, would require little water. This claim seems to be based solely on public assurances made by the oil industry. However, recent water court filings by oil shale developers now cast doubt upon these assurances, and it’s time for Lamborn and Tipton to reconsider their endorsement of the industry.

    In recent months, oil shale industry leaders Chevron Oil and ExxonMobil have undercut Lamborn and Tipton’s lead talking point. Chevron filed a lengthy report in Colorado water court showing that the company’s proposed oil shale development activities alone would require up to 125,000 acre-feet of water per year. That’s enough to supply more than half of Denver Water’s 2.3 million customers. ExxonMobil is seeking rights to even more water than Chevron, saying oil shale’s water demands “are anticipated to be higher than that of other sectors.” Other companies across the Colorado River Basin are also pursuing water rights to support oil shale operations.

    For those of us who actually depend on Colorado River water to live, from the headwaters in Colorado to the delta in California, these projected water demands are alarming. By 2050, when oil shale supporters predict a mature industry might flourish, the competition for water could be extreme, pitting vital agriculture and recreation economies against a burgeoning population and water-intensive energy demands. If oil shale indeed develops at a large-scale, the family farm — the bedrock of our rural communities and a critical economic driver for our region — will face a full-court press from industry for water rights.

    Even without oil shale development, water providers throughout the Colorado River Basin will be hard-pressed to meet existing and future demand. Colorado’s Water Plan, published in December 2014, indicates that by 2050, the gap between water availability and demand will be roughly 500,000 acre-feet, more water than the cities of Denver, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque collectively use in a year. Oil shale gets scant attention in this analysis, but developing these deposits would increase the gap and further strain water supplies.

    As James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, has noted, “No single issue will have a more direct impact on Colorado’s future than our ability to successfully and collaboratively manage our life-giving water.” This challenge is not unique to Colorado. States throughout the West are grappling with complex supply and demand questions.

    As Congress takes up the PIONEERS Act and considers whether to fast-track oil shale development in the Colorado River Basin, it’s time to examine supporters’ key talking point that oil shale won’t use much water. We must remember the court filings and hold our elected officials accountable. There is too much riding on the myth that oil shale wouldn’t require much of a far more precious resource: water.

    More oil shale coverage here and here.